In Gallup a couple days visiting family. Unbelievably beautiful this time of year with heavy monsoon clouds colliding in the sky and veils of rain onstreaming downwards towards the horizon. Always makes me think of Portuguese man o’ wars — purple tentacles plumbing the depths of the crystalline atmosphere, caressing the sage and dust of our little corner of the Colorado Plateau.
Layer Upon Layer
Tears of joy and tears of sadness are difficult to distinguish and even more difficult to keep in check when I’m home. Like the Guads, this is sacred terrain for me. Not due to it’s strangeness, however, but instead for its ultimate familiarity. I’ve been everywhere a thousand times. Indeed, this is the stuff of which the bedrock of my consciousness is made.
Layer upon layer of stone overlain (unconformably) by layer upon layer of culture and civilization. This, in its turn, is overlain (again, unconformably) by layer upon layer of personal memory.
Nowhere else do I feel the collapse of time into space as powerfully as I do here. The triassic, the tertiary, the holocene, my 29 years of life merged and consolidated into a few square miles. The burial of ancient dunes, sea floors, lagoons. Their tedious resurrection during the uplift of the Laramide. The burial of friends on the westside six years and thirteen years hence.
Epitaphs And Connotations
Epitaphs on marble tablets bleaching under the selfsame sun that bleached the bones of dinosaurs. Epitaphs on the DNA of Ponderosas scoured by the selfsame gusts that breathed in the branches of the earliest gymnosperms 319 million years before the present.
The oxidized cliffs of the Entrada Formation; these are my Wailing Walls. I scale their heights to walk along their sandy brows, contemplating gravity and our careening free fall around the blackness at the center of our Galaxy. Sagittarius A*.
The Other Side
The coal seams and technicolor mudstones and clays. These are my celebrated icons — revered for the mysterious and elemental dynamism they stand in for.
The crumbling streets and secret alleyways of town. Boarded edifices and sodium lamplight. These are my Tibetan mandala. How much longer till the hand of impermanence wipes the palimpsest clean?
Mine is a Hajj of both great sorrow and great ecstasy — a solemn pilgrimage I’m fortunate enough to be able to undertake as often as I can stand. Two hours from Albuquerque in a machine animated by the explosive incineration of a thousand corpses.
When my day comes, bury me on the outskirts of town. Skip the toxic preservatives, swaddle me in a cheap cloth, and throw me in a hole next to a juniper tree as the vespertine breeze begins to tousle the golden grasses. Dwell for a moment upon the silent absorption to come, and then upon the gossamer virgas overhead charged with thunder.
I’ll see you in 4 billion millennia, well on the other side of the supernova, when the tendrils of Andromeda begin to mingle with our diamond dust.